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Queer Praxis

Questions for LGBTQ Worldmaking

Edited By Dustin Bradley Goltz and Jason Zingsheim

Amidst rapid advances of mainstream gay and lesbian platforms, questions of essential sexual identities, queered rituals of family, queered notions of intimacy, queer considerations of time, and the possibility and value of queered systems of relation are largely absent. Resisting the public face of a normative and homogenous gay and lesbian community, and embracing a broadened conception of queerness, this book brings together 29 writers – a diverse community of scholars, lovers, and activists – to explore queer theory and embodied experiences within interpersonal relations and society at large. Enacting a critical intervention into the queer theoretical landscape, the book offers an alternative engagement where contributors centralize lived experience. Theoretical engagements are generated in relation and in dialogue with one another exploring collectivity, multiple points of entrance, and the living nature of critical theory. Readers gain familiarity with key concepts in queer thought, but also observe how these ideas can be navigated and negotiated in the social world. Queer Praxis serves as a model for queer relationality, enlisting transnational feminist, critical communication, and performance studies approaches to build dialogue across and through differing subjectivities.
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20. Breaking Silence

Extract



JACQUELINE TAYLOR

I’m fascinated by the way decorum, as a term, operates in this dialogue. Seemingly equated with discipline and bearing a clearly negative connotation, decorum, as figured here, works in some of these passages to constrain and undermine queer identity and authenticity. As I listen to the conversation, to stories where everyone seems to have come out into a world where gay and lesbian people were always already visible (in some form), where women were always already visible, I cannot help but reflect on the way our notions of decorum are inflected generationally.

Decorum, a term with Latin roots, considers the appropriateness of style to subject. The earliest discussions of decorum pertained to art and oratory more than proper behavior. Classical rhetoricians such as Aristotle analyzed speeches, poetry and theatre according to the degree of harmony between subject, style, and occasion. Rhetoricians today continue to talk about decorum as a term for the consideration of how the content of a work is structured in relationship to the form, the occasion, the goals, etc.

That notion of decorum strikes me as quite a bit loftier and perhaps more worthwhile than what, in this conversation, appears at times as a notion of the rules of decorum inscribing a petty bourgeois or even dishonest concern with controlling any eruptions of a truth that would make queer lives visible. Surely notions of decorum for LGBTQ people have been complicated by the notion that to appear...

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